South Downs Railway

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Computerised Control

Computer Control for the SDR

Computer control isn't for everyone; equally for others it is a very important part of their model railway. This section describes how the "Traincontroller" software has been used to control the South Downs Railway.

Why did I want computer based control? Two reasons, I suppose. Firstly, I don't find driving model trains particularly inspiring. If I can press a button and have a train go from A to B, I'm happy. Secondly, the railway is too large for one person to control anything like all the activity that should be going on at any one time. Using a computerised control approach, the computer can drive some "background" traffic and can run trains to and from stations. A human operator still has work to do - for example splitting up goods trains, changing the loco on passenger trains at terminus stations and the like. The computer program allows a "tempo" of train operations to be maintained alongside the human involvement.

Computer control isn't a "take it or leave it" concept: there are lots of ways it can be used. They can be more intrusive or less intrusive way according to your wishes.

My railway is controlled from a PC located by the fiddle yard. I have a laptop plus a large monitor; this kit used to be expensive, but is far less so today. For those who want a less intrusive approach, it's entirely possible to use a sub £200 laptop with free software: so cost need not be a prohibitive barrier.

 

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